Roulette Hall of Fame

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In 1999, a resident of New York named Clifford R. Nordquist embarked upon a project to trademark numerous “Hall of Fame” entities related to gambling. It was his intention to offer “museum services featuring a hall of fame honoring achievements, contributions, and notoriety in the field of gambling (and) organizing and conducting an award ceremony to recognize achievements, contributions, and notoriety in the field of gambling.” Included among the various service marks he applied for was the “Roulette Hall of Fame.’

By 2001, however, Nordquist had abandoned his ambitious project to pursue a lucrative career as president of a wholesale bagel bakery in the Bronx, leaving the world without an “official” Roulette Hall of Fame. That has not, however, prevented a number of online organisations from introducing their own virtual versions, notably the dot-com known as Casino Personalities and the dot-org called Online Roulette Guide.

Both of these web sites agree on ten entries worthy of Roulette Hall of Fame inclusion, starting with the infamous British gambler Joseph Jaggers (1830~1892), who in 1873 took advantage of a wheel bias he noticed at roulette table in Monte Carlo to win over £zero,000. They also agree on William Nelson Darnborough (1869~1958), the first American player to apply a systematic manner of predicting where the ball will drop, allowing him relieve Monaco of an estimated £320,000 in 1904.

Also cited are Claude E. Shannon and Edward O. Thorp for developing in 1961 a wearable computer that could be used to improve the odds when playing roulette; Norman Leigh, who organized a team of twelve players in 1966 to win the equivalent of over £100,000 at the roulette tables of the Casino Municipale in Nice, France; and Dr. Richard Jarecki who exploited unbalanced wheels in San Remo and Monte Carlo to the tune of over £800,000 in 1969.

The two “authorities” also agree on the Eudaemons, a group of California physics students who in 1978 created small computers to hide in their shoes that helped them average a profit of 44% for every dollar wagered at roulette, and on Scott Lang, whose 1983 book taught players how to beat the wheel by using a stopwatch.

The other two Roulette Hall of Fame members the web sites list in common are Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo, who won roughly £1 million at the Casino Madrid by exploiting roulette wheel flaws, and a supposed gang of conmen who reportedly won hundreds of thousands of dollars from Austria’s Casino Velden in 2003 by planting a remote-controlled magnetic roulette ball on a table.

The Online Roulette Guide adds two other entries to its Roulette Hall of Fame that Casino Personalities does not. One is professional gambler Billy Walters. In 1989, he discovered that old-style roulette wheels were not completely random and armed with this information took Las Vegas tables for $3.8 million. The other is a supposed group of swindlers who in 2004 used a computer, mobile phones and laser devices to win more than £1 million at the roulette tables of the Ritz in London.

Oddly, neither of the Roulette Hall of Fame stewards named betting system pioneers like Henry Labouchère, Leonardo Fibonacci, Jean-Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert or Henry Martingale. Nor do they mention Francois and Louis Blanc, the two brothers credited with the invention of the single-zero roulette wheel in the 1840s. And surely “the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo” should be recognized—Charles Deville Wells (1841-1926). One can only wonder whether Nordquist’s proposed museum would have overlooked or included them.

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